One thing leads to another: anticipating visual object identity based on associative-memory templates.
Boettcher SEP., Stokes MG., Nobre AC., van Ede F.
Probabilistic associations between stimuli afford memory templates that guide perception through pro-active anticipatory mechanisms. A great deal of work has examined the behavioural consequences and human electrophysiological substrates of anticipation following probabilistic memory cues that carry spatial or temporal information to guide perception. However, less is understood about the electrophysiological substrates linked to anticipating the sensory content of events based on recurring associations between successive events. Here, we demonstrate behavioural and electrophysiological signatures of utilising associative-memory templates to guide perception, while equating spatial and temporal anticipation (Experiment 1 and 2), as well as target probability and response demands (Experiment 2). By recording the electroencephalogram (EEG) in the two experiments (N=55; 24 Female), we show that two markers in human electrophysiology implicated in spatial and temporal anticipation also contribute to anticipation of perceptual identity: attenuation of alpha band oscillations and the contingent negative variation (CNV). Taken together, our results show that memory-guided identity templates proactively impact perception and are associated with anticipatory states of attenuated alpha oscillations and the CNV. Furthermore, by isolating object-identity anticipation from spatial and temporal anticipation, our results suggest a role for alpha attenuation and the CNV in specific visual content anticipation beyond general changes in neural excitability or readiness.Significance StatementProbabilistic associations between stimuli afford memory templates that guide perception through pro-active anticipatory mechanisms. The current work isolates the behavioural benefits and electrophysiological signatures of memory-guided identity-based anticipation - while equating anticipation of space, time, motor responses, and task-relevance. Our results show that anticipation of the specific identity of a forthcoming percept impacts performance and is associated with states of attenuated alpha oscillations and the contingent negative variation (CNV) - extending previous work implicating these neural substrates in spatial and temporal preparatory attention. Taken together this work bridges fields of attention, memory, and perception, providing new insights into the neural mechanisms that support complex attentional templates.